Effect of plant maturity on leaf growth, yield and physicochemical properties of aloe vera gel
Majority of aloe vera manufacturers do not consider the plant maturity during gel extraction for therapeutic use. In addition, the gel extraction procedures adopted are required to be more efficient in terms of yield. In this study, aloe vera leaves from plants of different maturity levels grown under similar set of agronomic practices and climatic conditions were examined for leaf dimensions, leaf weight, gel yield and physicochemical properties of gel. The gel extracted employing two processing techniques i.e. stripping and unstripping the leaves, showed a higher gel yield in case of stripped leaves. Physicochemical analyses of gel revealed that all the nutrients, bioactive components and majority of minerals studied attained the highest level at 4 years of plant maturity. This investigation has demonstrated that selection of aloe vera leaves weighing above 700 g from a four year old plant processed by stripping holds potential benefits for the manufacturers as well as consumers of aloe gel in terms of higher gel yield along with greater nutritional and therapeutic value.
Aloe vera has enjoyed a long history of wider acceptance for medicinal value. Approved clinical trial data support effectiveness of aloe vera for lowering LDL, increasing HDL, decreasing blood glucose level, treating genital herpes and psoriases (1). Today large numbers of aloe products are marketed in the form of cosmetics, nutraceuticals and health supplements.
Some researchers have studied the aloe vera for its chemical composition. Femenia et al. (2) carried out chemical characterization of lyophilized aloe vera plant fractions i.e. skin, fillet and gel obtained from four year old plant. Gautam and Awasthi (3) standardized the process of making aloe vera leaf powder and analyzed it for nutrient composition and physicochemical characteristics. Wang and Strong (4) measured the sugar content, total solids, concentration of calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium in aloe vera gel obtained from the leaves of three different sources over a period of two years. Despite the earlier studies on physicochemical properties of aloe vera, none of the study has focused on the effect of plant maturity on leaf growth, yield of gel and its physic ...